Healthcare support workers and healthcare professionals work in almost the same setting, but their roles are different. Healthcare support workers provide support and assistance when needed. They work alongside healthcare professionals like therapists, physicians, and nurses.
Who Is a Healthcare Support Worker?
A healthcare support worker is primarily needed in a supportive capacity for the healthcare specialists and the individual’s needs. The job description ranges from conducting routine health checks, such as administering medications, to providing emotional assistance or helping with day-to-day activities.
Their sole priority is ensuring an individual is comfortable and safe while coping with a challenge or difficulty. Support workers can work in various fields or wherever their services are required.
Who Is a Healthcare Professional?
A healthcare professional is certified to administer treatments through years of formal training and hands-on practice while gaining experience. They are professionals in various specialisation areas, including nursing, family physician, radiologist, physical therapist, psychiatrist, etc.
These healthcare professionals may be licensed by more than one professional body and are usually trained in specific fields to ensure they are fully equipped with the necessary proficiency and skills to carry out their duties.
These professionals assess the individual’s needs, establish a diagnosis and provide treatments.
What Does the Role of a Support Worker Entail?
The role of a support worker is a more practical approach to healthcare as they are not limited to medical attention alone. Their function can also vary depending on the needs of the individual, and it’s the support worker’s job to be flexible enough to accommodate the individual’s needs at every given time.
Some of the duties of a support worker include the following:
- Carrying out tests
- Supporting an individual to move around
- Giving meals and feeding, as necessary
- Personal care
- Providing emotional assistance
Attributes A Healthcare Support Worker Must Have
Being a healthcare support worker requires qualities that ensure people that need support feel safe and comfortable. Some of those qualities include:
- Being physically fit. In some cases, support workers must undertake physical tasks that require capacity.
- Setting boundaries. Maintaining professionalism by respecting personal, professional, and therapeutic boundaries is essential.
- Empathy is also an important attribute. It’s vital for individuals that need support to trust the support worker. That can be achieved if the support workers understand their situation, needs and aspirations.
- Proper organisational abilities are paramount. Planning mealtimes, medications, exercise routines, check-ups, and other requirements must be handled adequately without overwhelming anyone.
Entry Requirements & Career Developments For a Healthcare Support Worker
There are no standard entry requirements to meet before you can become a healthcare support worker. However, good numeracy and literacy skills are expected. You might also need healthcare qualifications like NVQ or BTEC for specific roles.
Also, as a healthcare support worker, you should possess specific soft skills like communication, teamwork, empathy, and organisation. These skills will help you thrive on the job.
Like every other job, healthcare support workers can undergo certifications and training while on the job to ensure they are ideally suited to carry out their duties. Professionals guide them on what to do until they don’t require supervision anymore, but it doesn’t have to end there. Support workers who wish to improve their qualifications and become professionals can always scale up. You can work towards acquiring a care certificate and taking training that will help you advance your career ladder.
Different Fields Healthcare Support Workers Can Work In
Due to the vast nature of the healthcare support work system and how they are required in every field, it is easier to group them according to various areas. This helps them attain mastery in those required fields and ensures their career path is one of ease.
These various roles typically support functions from multiple professional fields such as:
- Midwifery healthcare support employee supports nursing mothers and their infants in ensuring they are always comfortable and monitored.
- Children’s services healthcare support involves monitoring children’s wards and school units, depending on their location.
- In a setting where healthcare is meant to be provided to individuals in their homes or a community setting, the support worker is called a community healthcare support worker.
- A mental health healthcare support staff helps individuals with mental health conditions by monitoring and communicating with them.
- Special care health care support workers support individuals with mental or physical difficulties.
While the duties of a healthcare support worker might vary slightly from those of healthcare professionals, they are undoubtedly also significant, and their role must be addressed.